Fintech Branding: Strong Companies, Missed Opportunities

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Fintech is the very definition of a disruptive force. From a small number of upstart firms around the turn of the millennium, fintech has grown into a titan—a $310 billion industry that is reinventing the way financial institutions and their B2B and B2C clients think about banking and investing.

And yet fintech’s approach to branding is anything but disruptive. Of the 25,000+ start-ups worldwide, many have a similar look and feel and no distinct brand identity to speak of.


If you’re a fintech founder, you’ve devoted much effort and creative energy to perfecting your platform but perhaps not enough to branding and marketing. Assuming your firm has something of real value to offer, you could be missing an opportunity—whether you’re well-established or seeking investment capital, looking to remain independent or ultimately to be acquired. As competition among fintech firms intensifies, the brands that will prevail are those with a compelling narrative that expresses their unique value to the audience in a differentiated voice.

Of course, differentiation in itself isn’t a guarantee. Even a strong brand can fall prey to the whims of the marketplace. But there are steps you can take to mitigate the risk of drowning in a sea of sameness:

  • You’re used to disrupting things—do the same for your brand. You built your platform by flouting convention, getting inside your customers’ heads, and creating something truly different. Now apply that same principle to your brand. Know exactly what your brand stands for and convey it clearly, memorably and, above all, truthfully.
  • Clearly articulate your value proposition. B2B audiences want to know how you can add value to their business. How will your product or service make their jobs easier, build their business and serve their clients better?
  • Cultivate brand presence. Far too many brands recede into the background because they lack presence—that inimitable quality that makes heads turn. It’s more than just a visual vocabulary and tone of voice. Read more about Brand Presence here.
  • Assume your audience is global. Technology has made borders less relevant and the world more seamless. Even if you’re targeting a domestic audience, there’s no benefit to building a fence around it. Ensure that your brand can resonate with a diverse, global audience.
  • Get emotional. Don’t just hype your product and its amazing features. Tell a story and make your target consumer the hero. This applies equally to B2B and B2C clients: A CEB-Google study found that businesses “may try to make rational buying decisions but are often influenced by gut feelings and emotions…whether consciously or not.”

You also want to get a sense of who they You’ve already done the hard part: You’ve gone from start-up to successful fintech business. The next part is no less important and requires a similarly innovative mindset —creating a distinct and resilient brand. While the fintech market is a noisy place, you can still stand out. Your success depends on it.

1. YOUR SALES REPS ARE PITCHING YOUR OLD STORY

There’s a serious disconnect somewhere within your organization, and it’s compromising the clarity of your internal communications. As a result, the sales reps don’t have either the training or the collateral materials they need to get your current messages out to the customer. So update your sales track, deliver appropriate support pieces and alert the field. Now is also a good time to check for other big holes in your digital communications, and to ensure that all messaging integrates with your company’s chosen positioning.

2. YOUR SALES REPS ARE WORKING AROUND OUT-OF-DATE MATERIALS OR CHANNELS

If any part of a sales piece is outdated, many reps won’t use it. Instead, they are left grabbing for whatever they can get their hands on to win the sale—we know one sales rep who actually mixed and matched literature from other firms! If this is happening in your sales organization, don’t be surprised if prospects get so muddled by your messages that they take their business elsewhere.

Managing your digital content library will improve consistency and enable reps to quickly reach prospects via digital and social channels, improving the number of touch points along the sales lifecycle.

3. YOU’VE JUST LAUNCHED A NEW PRODUCT, BUT YOUR SALES REPS AREN’T SELLING IT

Maybe they don’t even realize the product or service has been introduced—or if they do, they don’t know how to sell it. Maybe it’s too novel or complicated and it’s just easier for them to pitch other things. Take the lead in making sure that other departments—sales, finance, product development, research— are talking to you, and you’re all heading in the same direction.

As products are developed, make sure your marketing department is working in tandem, creating collateral to support digital communications and prospective sales meetings.

4. YOUR MARKETING ASSISTANT CAN’T EXPLAIN WHAT YOUR BUSINESS IS. NEITHER CAN YOUR MOTHER

They would understand the nature of your business better if your marketing communications quickly and concisely defined your company’s character, philosophy, benefits and value proposition. But that can happen only if you make these messages simple enough for anyone—even lay people—to understand them.

If your messages are fuzzy, indistinct or inconsistent, it may be because your brand isn’t clearly defined or because you aren’t using the right communication tool. Rewire your communications in a way that tells your story well by defining how it should be told—maybe it’s an interactive experience or video or guerrilla marketing takeover—it’s up to you to tell your brand story.

5. CUSTOMERS ACT SURPRISED BY YOUR NEW CUTTING-EDGE IMAGE

A message that doesn’t fit with your culture will be rejected by the sales force. And if that wrong message somehow does get in front of your target audiences, they won’t respond the way you want them to. A case in point: A traditional banking institution launched a hip new promotion to its high-net-worth clients. But the marketing communications no longer made an honest representation of the bank and its offerings—a mistake made frequently back during the dot-com era. The bank learned the hard way that a surprised customer is a former customer. By delivering messages that are consistently clear and true to the goals and culture of your organization, you give customers greater confidence in all of your offerings.

6. YOU CAN’T TELL YOUR OWN WEB SITE FROM THE COMPETITION’S

The text on your site pages is subject to the same scrutiny as every other part of your company’s business communication system. To be effective, it has to differentiate your company while it supports the message, feelings and image that you’ve put so much effort into developing. Sameness can be deadly. If you can’t tell what makes your firm different by reading your pages, neither will visitors to your site.

7. PROSPECTS ARE SAYING, “THIS WAS EMAILED TO ME AND I DON’T KNOW WHAT IT IS.”

The attachment they received seems unrelated to the product or service they requested information about. First off, you should be thinking embedded video over attachments. When was the last time you opened an attachment to an email if you did not request it? Get back to the fundamentals of integrated marketing: Make sure each communication connects in some way with your overall corporate message, and that fulfillment packages are a natural outgrowth of your advertising.

8. YOUR CAPABILITIES BROCHURES ARE COLLECTING DUST

Boxes of the glossy 16-pager your company poured its marketing budget into are being moved into a closet, where you won’t have to look at them anymore. They are constant and nagging reminders of the time, information and financial resources wasted on that splendid piece, the panacea that was supposed to address every one of your sales and marketing needs. If that brochure hasn’t been used to promote your company, what has? If you’re not sure what materials your sales team is using, that’s a red flag in itself.

9. CLIENTS THINK YOUR FIRM STILL OFFERS WHAT IT DID THREE YEARS AGO

Be sure you’re not recycling outdated marketing messages that prevent customers from thinking of you in new and better ways. For some types of companies, cross marketing is the most effective tool for building multiple relationships and retaining customers. By making re-selling a priority in their communications plan, they let their customer base know they’re still the same great company they always were, with added capabilities to better serve their needs.

10. YOU LOST THE BUSINESS — AGAIN.

Your product or service would have been perfect for that client. Why did they go with the competition? Maybe your communications aren’t being directed to all your target audiences. To be sure they call you next time, take a look at your marketing communications system. Is it up-to-date? Is it being used? Keeping your company on your prospects’ screens is one of the prime purposes of marketing communications. No where is it more true that out of sight is out of mind.

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